Retired from the British Council after a 29-year career that took him to Baghdad, Rome, Brussels, Ottawa and Rabat, Martin is an experienced cultural relations professional and theorist. Now retained by the Council as a senior adviser, he is also a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Centre for Islamic Studies. He writes widely (he has just published There and Back by Candle-Light, an account of his experiences in Baghdad before and during the Gulf War of 1990); and he consults and writes on issues in education in the Middle East, cultural relations, cultural preservation, radicalisation and other related subjects. With an academic background in the Middle East (M Phil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies at St Antony’s College, Oxford), Martin is a seasoned thinker and contributor across a wide spectrum of activity. He blogs as Mercurius Maghrebensis.
I recently found myself wondering about the name Boko Haram, and did a bit of rummaging on the internet. Like many people, I had rather assumed that it was a crude translation of ‘Books are haram,’ which was then loosely paraphrased as ‘Western education is forbidden,’ the battle-cry of the book-burning, student-killing obscurantists of north-eastern … More Bokonism and the Colonial Past